KEY THOT: Paul wants us to pray for all people, regardless of their status or station in life so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life. Many Christians have interpreted this to mean we are to pray for the government leaders to do their job well so we Christians may carry on with our lives without being persecuted or molested. But if we study the sentence structure properly, we realize that what Paul is really asking is not praying that kings and people might leave believers alone, but rather that they may “come to the knowledge of the truth” because God “desires all people to be saved” (v.3). In fact, the NET Bible clarifies this in its translation by replaces “this is good” with “such prayer for all is good”. So NET translates verse 3 as: “such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” So understood this way, what Paul is saying is that the only way we are going to live “peaceful and quiet life” is when our rulers and people are saved through their knowledge of the truth.
Paul is therefore not asking us to offer self-interested prayers for our own benefits, but to offer missional prayers for the conversion of the nation. If our government is not saved, then we will be molested and persecuted—we are unlikely to be able to live a “peaceful and quiet life.” So, it behooves us who are Christians to pray not only for our government to rule in righteousness but to be converted to Christ, “for God desires all people to be saved.” Christians can therefore get “involved” in politics through our prayers, and not just by running for political offices or becoming political activists.
In fact, our prayers can change society faster than our participation in political activism—if we stay focused in our prayers and intercessions. The conversion of Rome in the fourth century AD shows how the early church's prayers changed the status of the church--from a persecuted fringe movement to becoming a mainstream institution that brought an end of persecution of Christians throughout the Roman Empire. Such is the power of prayer for the conversion of kings and peoples.
May God help us to offer the same bold missional prayers to God for the sake of our nation, by praying for all to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, for “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (v.6). As it now stands, only 18% of Singapore residents are Christian/Catholic. There is still much more to be done in this city.
Father, grant us a missional heart of God, to intercede for politicians and people in our nation, that they may come to the knowledge of the truth so that Christians may leave in peace and quietness. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.